Sound — 6
Overall very good, though the production is not very good, and a lot of the songs follow the same format (slow intro which builds up; stairway formula). It is very different from the other Maiden albums, none of which sound like this, a 3 because of the production.
Lyrics — 10
This album marked the debut of the hugely underrated singer, Blaze Bayley, who is very different from Bruce and Paul, but his deeper, dare I say more soulfull, voice fits the dark lyrical content of the album perfectly. He doesn't use very much of his vocal range (see Wolfsbane's Manhunt, or most any of his stuff with Blaze) but what he does use is excellent. Don't judge anything based on Bruce's preformance of sign of the cross on Rock In Rio, he can't pull it off, as it doesn't fit his voice. The content ranges from Religion (sign of to cross) to war (The Aftermath, The Heart Of Darkness, Fortunes Of War), the usual Maiden literary reference (Lord Of The Flies), anti-suicide and trusting that God will help you though tough times (Jugement Of Heaven) and most everything in between.
Overall Impression — 10
Though many people hate it, I really enjoy this album. It is very different, and sounds kinda muddy when compared to any of the Martin Birch produced albums. I love everything about it, and though the production kinda sucks, it works, and the album as a whole has a very nice flow to it. If it were stolen, I would buy 2 more copies, keep one in a safe as a back up, and listen to the other. A great album by one of, if not the greatest bands in the world.